On the heels of Tony Stewart’s Daytona International Speedway win on “The Road to Richmond,” the 10-week stretch continues at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. The next eight races will prove pivotal in deciding the field for the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which will be finalized on Saturday, September 8, at Richmond International Raceway’s Federated Auto Parts 400, which is “One Last Race to Make The Chase.”
All eyes are on the performance of the “wild card” contenders this weekend, as their chances to clinch a spot in The Chase are winding down. The “wild card” positions go to the two drivers with the most wins who are ranked 11-20 in the point standings, which means there could be an abundance of drivers battling it out for the win “under the lights” at Richmond International Raceway.
Carl Edwards can attest to how the “wild card” is affecting the standings. Although he is 11th in points, he finds himself on the outside looking in. Edwards has zero wins on the season, while Joey Logano (14th in points) has a win, putting Logano in The Chase for the moment.
Keep an eye on these drivers this weeken on “The Road to Richmond”:
Has an impressive history at New Hampshire with three wins and six poles. He is the defending pole and race winner of this race, and is the only driver to win twice from the pole at New Hampshire. A good performance this weekend could help Newman take control of the second “wild card” spot from Logano, who currently has a one-point advantage in the 14th position. Coming off a fifth-place finish at Daytona, Newman has the momentum to capture his second win of the season and power through the points field.
Martin Truex Jr.
Needs a comfortable finish, and preferably a win, to remain in a Chase position. Currently eighth in points, Truex is one of only two drivers in the top-10 that has no wins. Truex boasts four top-five and nine top-10 finishes this season, but will have to stand his ground this weekend as the other Chase hopefuls with wins have started creeping up in the standings.
Is no stranger to Gatorade Victory Lane at New Hampshire. The track is one of two on the circuit where Bowyer has won multiple times, including his first Sprint Cup Series victory. Out of 12 showings at NHMS, Bowyer has five other top-20 finishes aside from his two wins. Currently 10th in points, a strong run would help solidify a Chase spot for the bubble driver.